Jim Webb, the Green Party and the Future of the Left

by Camilo Gómez
April 29, 2015

Searching for an Alternative to Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is supposed to be a liberal and of course the liberal establishment is backing her. But a lot of rank-and-file democrats seem no hope in the former First Lady that’s why the “Draft Warren” effort had been popular even the Massachusetts Senator doesn’t seem interesting in run. Besides the almost quixotic attempt of the “Draft Warren” attempt, Hillary will not face a serious challenger in the Democratic Primaries maybe with one exception. Jim Webb is a strong candidate even if the liberal establishment always was suspicious of his populist tendencies. Webb a former Secretary of the Navy on the Reagan Administration once he switched parties was elected Senator from Virginia as a Democrat. He was somehow a left-wing paleoconservative that manage to be a cultural conservative with social tolerance while been an economic populist. But where he could score more points in the primaries is with is foreign policy restraint. Webb a Vietnam veteran isn’t an isolationist but seems to be a realist that makes the case for peace. His opposition to the Libyan War or what Rand Paul calls “Hillary’s War” could point the neocon character of the former Senator from New York.

The antiwar tendencies of Webb could sometimes be questioned by his negative reactions over the Iran’s Deal although he still seems like most honest candidate on foreign policy issues. His concern over veteran’s issues put him in a different direction than other Democratic candidates on the past it’s difficult for Republicans if he win to painted him as a far-left hippie liberal. Unlike the former Secretary of State and her humanitarian interventionism, Webb seems to be opposed to interventions on strategic matters that seems the case while Webb not only is against more troops in Middle East but also reluctant to give military support to factions in conflict overseas. On economics he certainly differs from the corporatist Clinton. But why is he polling so badly. In a previous article over CounterPunch I wrote about the lost legacy of McGovernism in the Democratic Party. It seems to me that the most principled antiwar activists nowadays are more near the Green Party, the paleoconservative movement and the libertarian world. One curious thing was the support of The American Conservative for Webb back in 2006, some writers of the magazine had also supported Nader the several times he ran for president. If it seems strange that a magazine founded by Pat Buchanan had endorsed a pro-choice and pro-gay rights Democrat but the explanation is that there is a bigger cause that are not social issues but the cause for peace. But even if he became the peace candidate of 2016, the Democratic Party is no longer the party of George McGovern now is the party of Obama and liberal imperialism.

Hillary is by far the favorite and if Webb don’t pass single digits it is more difficult for the others to do that. Martin O’Malley seems more interested in been VP. Lincoln Chaffe is not much popular outside Rhode Island. Bernie Sanders isn’t even register as Democrat. Although in theory the three are running to the left of Hillary only Webb and Sanders supporters seem probably to support other alternative than Clinton. And there is an alternative to corporate liberalism and her name is Jill Stein. The Green Party’s 2012 presidential candidate seems interested in other run and had announced an exploratory committee. A Harvard trained physician had run for office several times in Massachusetts including in 2002 when she debated Mitt Romney when he was running for governor. She did better in 2012 than David Cobb in 2004 and Cynthia McKinney in 2008 but worse than Ralph Nader in 2000. One explanation was the Obama excitement.

While the Occupy movement made an irruption in 2011, the fact is that a lot of left liberals complain about the dangers of a defeat of the first black president had an effect on the final results. Now the apologists of Hillary only defense is that she is a woman. Despite email scandals, the obscure relations with foreign tyrants of Clinton Foundation and the fact that Hillary is on the side of Wall Street could liberals support Green Party? I don’t think left liberals disagree with the platform of the Green Party but a lot are concern with tactics. Jill Stein however unlike Nader wasn’t treated as a spoiler although large part of the liberal media prefer to ignore her. But if she focuses on blue states like California or New York, she could manage to build of the Hillary disappointment from the left.

On the right, Jill Stein’s support could depend of what happen on the Republican primaries if Rand Paul win, some paleoconservatives might still prefer the Senator from Kentucky over a third party insurgent. If anybody else wins, Stein could gain support in base of her foreign policy anti-interventionism also she could develop a program friendly to conservative communitarians with decentralist policies over the more regular liberal position of federal programs. On the libertarian side, Gary Johnson seem as a strong, having been in elected office while serving as a fiscally conservative governor of New Mexico. He seems a strong contender not only for libertarian voters but also for independents however the presence Jesse Ventura in the libertarian could change that. While Ventura was elected as governor of Minnesota as a third party candidate, he is more famous for his conspiracy theories. He is weird even for libertarian standards. Johnson is still the favorite but in Libertarian Party conventions all had happened and all could happen, so if a cannon loose like Ventura win the LP’s nomination, I expect some LP members and libertarians at large are going to vote for Jill Stein.


Brian Jones, Kshama Sawant & Howie Hawkins

But the real question is in what shape is the Green Party. CounterPunch readers probably be aware of the battle between Cobb supporters and naderites in 2004 than almost broke the party. Nader supporters had come back to the party but the problems are still big. The party especially in swing states had problems to get on the ballot and even in the liberal Vermont they don’t have an active state party. Still there is hope, in New York last year Howie Hawkins the Green Party gubernatorial candidate receive almost 5% of final vote. His campaign was energized not only by greens but also by anti-fracking activists plus activists from the socialist left, his running mate Brian Jones is a member of the International Socialist Organization and Kshama Sawant from the Socialist Alternative also endorsed Hawkins. Young people are more interested in socialism than capitalism according to recent polls and events like People’s Climate March show a general interest in ecology. The 2016 elections could be the start of a green future.

Camilo Gómez is a philosophy student at the National University of San Marcos.